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Working to Save the World: Green Jobs Outlook 2020

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From the United Nations to Fortune 500 boardrooms, everyone is starting to see the importance of a sustainable future. Want to be a part of that future? These are the green jobs that are growing fastest.

Many of the world’s biggest companies are at the forefront of renewable energy and sustainability. International governments are catching up, with nations all over the world committing to near-zero carbon outputs over the next few decades. As investment in sustainable technologies increases, green jobs are expanding in a number of key industries.

Energy & Infrastructure

Renewable energy and green infrastructure are the future of sustainability, and we’re at a turning point in 2020. As communities worldwide begin to recover from the pandemic, investment in these materials will only increase. Building back a better, greener energy economy will maximize the benefits of 2020’s historically low emissions. Plus, it’ll bring development to some already fast-growing job industries.

Renewable Energy

Solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine service technicians are both expected to see significant growth over the next decade. Jobs in these sectors could grow by 60% in the 2020s. The production of solar cells has doubled every two years in the last decade, and proponents of wind power suggest it could comprise a third of global energy production by 2050.

Jobs in renewable energy (including solar and wind as well as newer technologies like geothermal and wave power) require a broad range of skill sets. This opens opportunities for individuals with any education to find a suitable position in these fast-growing green industries.

Clean Car Engineers

Transportation is responsible for one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, burning two-thirds of its oil. Nearly every manufacturer has an electric or hybrid vehicle option, with some companies producing exclusively electric cars. These vehicles could make up almost 60% of all passenger car sales worldwide by 2040. Keeping up with this demand level will require significant increases in clean car careers over the next decades.

Urban Planning & Building Design

As cities begin to take the lead in sustainability and climate change resilience, urban planners will be playing a critical role. These professionals create plans for land use, including infrastructure and potential for growth. Careers in urban planning are expected to grow by more than 10% in the next 10 years.

Some of the most significant innovations in sustainable urban life are coming from the field of building design. LEED architecture, green roofs, and stormwater recapture are all part of a growing effort to green our cities. These fields offer opportunities for highly educated professionals like landscape designers as well as for careers in manual fields like construction and manufacturing.

Agriculture

Farming isn’t just for the Midwesterners anymore. New advances in sustainable agriculture are sweeping the nation, hoping to address the twin problems of food security and environmental health.

Urban Farming

More than half of the world’s populations live in cities, a number that will only increase in the coming years. Yet the vast majority of the world’s food is grown in rural areas, traveling great distances to get to consumers in the urban environment. But urban agriculture is on the rise. In fact, this industry has grown more than 30% in the last 30 years and could feasibly meet 20% or more of global food demand in the future.

Organic Farming

City life isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, organic farming is growing, as well. From 2011 to 2016, organic agriculture grew a whopping 56%. More and more farms are certified organic each year as growers and consumers recognize the importance of these practices to conservation and health. As the demand for these products rises, we’ll see even more green jobs in organic farming start to open up.

Jobs in Nature

Love the outdoors? Some of the fastest-growing green jobs get you out of the office and getting your hands dirty.  

Environmental Education

“Conservation starts with education.” These are the words of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but they reflect environmental learning trends worldwide. The United Arab Emirates recently committed to incorporating educational initiatives in cooperation with the International Renewable Energy System. U.S. schools are increasing their commitment to environmental education as well, as field trips, outdoor classrooms, and even entire schools based in nature inspire a new generation. A return to traditional schooling in the years to come will undoubtedly feature additional investment (and jobs) in environmental education.  

Ecosystem Restoration

The U.N. General Assembly named 2021-2030 “The U.N. Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.” Responding to the declining quality of worldwide habitats and essential natural spaces, the U.N. envisions a decade spent restoring more than 350 million hectares of degraded land. This commitment will increase investment worldwide in natural landscape improvements, opening job opportunities for conservationists, policymakers, and laborers alike.

Green Your Current Job

Maybe you already have your dream job, or maybe it just isn’t the right time to try a career shift. Tap into current trends in all workplaces to make any job greener.

Even before the pandemic, some jobs offered working from home as a bonus benefit. But once the Coronavirus restricted everyone to their home offices, skyscrapers and office parks emptied from London to L.A. The craziest part? It worked.

This sudden shift made employers aware of the great potential of working from home. It might be necessary during the pandemic, but the cost savings and convenience of working from home are likely here to stay. This means that commuting (and its massive emissions) might be a thing of the past.

Working from home is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, but it isn’t possible for all industries. Whether you work in food service or high-security computing, sometimes you just have to go into work. That’s okay – you can still make a positive environmental impact! Try suggesting green initiatives like improved recycling, reusable office cookware, or finding circular solutions for waste. No matter your position, you can be a voice for change in your workplace and make any job a green job.

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